Cows, you see, have a serious emissions problem. To digest tough plant material, their cavernous stomachs act as fermentation vats. They’re teeming with methanogens, microbes that process cellulose to make volatile fatty acids, which the cows turn into meat and milk. But those methanogens also produce methane, a particularly nasty greenhouse gas that is 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide, thanks to the way its molecules vibrate to absorb infrared radiation. These gases capture heat, and that means more global warming…
Now multiply those burps by the world’s huge cattle population. To satisfy humanity’s bottomless appetite for beef and milk, a billion head of cattle now roam the planet. A paper published in September in the journal Nature Food by an international team of researchers found that the global food system generates a staggering 35 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions. Beef is responsible for a quarter of those food emissions, with another 8 percent coming from milk production…
If scientists can figure out how to get cows to stop belching so much, that would make a big dent in emissions, and we’d see the climate effects almost immediately. So Mitloehner and other researchers are experimenting with food additives like seaweed, garlic, and even essential oils derived from plants like coriander seed, which tweak the animals’ gut environment in different ways, for instance by disrupting the enzymes that produce methane.
RTFA. Lots about hows and whys of the difficulties coming up with a solution to the problem. Beaucoup detail about the inventive constructs researchers come up with to measure the methane output…and what they’ve tried, so far, in attempts to mitigate that production.
5 thoughts on “A billion head of cattle roam Earth – burping out methane”
Cow Tools https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cow_Tools
COP26: As carbon emissions rise unabated, scientists eye a methane removal fix https://news.mongabay.com/2021/11/as-carbon-emissions-rise-unabated-scientists-eye-a-methane-removal-fix/
Can seaweed help solve Ireland’s cow methane problem?
Ireland looks to seaweed to feed to cattle and sheep in quest to curb the methane they are breathing out. https://www.aljazeera.com/gallery/2021/11/23/photos-ireland-looks-to-seaweed-in-quest-to-curb-methane-from-cows
The Irish researchers have tapped into a network of seaweed harvesters who are reviving a tradition mentioned in monastic writings as far back as the 5th century.
About 20 species of seaweed, most from Ireland’s windswept Atlantic coast, have been tested by researchers while dozens more have been collected by the project’s partners in Norway, Canada, Sweden, Germany and the United Kingdom.
Scientists in the United States and Australia have already demonstrated dramatic methane-reducing qualities from one seaweed type – Asparagopsis – when small quantities are added to the feedstock.
7AM MST, tomorrow morning, 24th